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Top 5 Nigerian Banks of 2019

It’s been a mixed year for Nigerian banks. Some have seen their profits bulge; others have had to lay off a large fraction of their workforce, just to maintain decent margins. There were expansions into new regions; a huge merger was completed; and the general shift to digital banking continued.

And in the world beyond the news headlines, the millions of people served by these banks had the chance to rate their lenders, based on the quality of the service they delivered.


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As 2019 comes to an end, we’re getting in on the ranking act. We’ll present you with our top five Nigerian banks for the year, and let you know what makes them deserving of their spot on our list.

Note that the asset valuations and profit-after-tax figures in this article are from the respective banks’ nine-month results statements for the year 2019.   

Here are our picks.

5. United Bank for Africa (UBA)

Assets: ₦4.96 trillion

Profit After Tax: ₦81.6 billion

UBA was named African Bank of the Year for 2019 by the Bankers Magazine, London. It’s not hard to see why. The institution has remained steady through the uncertainties of the last few years, and has managed to record impressive profits this year.

According to UBA’s financial statements, its profit after tax for the first half of 2019 shot up by over 32% compared to the same period in 2018- evidence that it’s doing smart business with the funds at its disposal.       

In January, it announced that it was expanding into Mali. UBA already has a presence in more than a dozen African countries. Closer to the present, it introduced a self-service debit card printing machine for its customers.      

4. First Bank of Nigeria

Assets: ₦5.73 trillion

Profit After Tax: ₦51 billion.

First Bank is Nigeria’s oldest surviving financial institution. It’s still one of the most trusted in the country, having emerged intact from several economy-wide financial crises. It has also done well enough in the past twelve months to land a place on our year-end list.

Earlier in 2019, First Bank was named the retail bank of the year by the Global Banking and Finance Review. 

In recent times, it’s become known for encouraging gender inclusiveness in the Nigerian financial sector. The banks’ success in this regard has been due in part to the wok of its chairman, Ibukun Awosika.

3. GT Bank

Assets: ₦3.29 trillion

Profit After Tax: ₦146.9 billion

GT Bank doesn’t have a balance sheet the size of the preceding banks on this list. But it still takes a higher spot here because of its well-regarded customer service, the leading role it plays in digital banking, and the sizeable profit it has declared for the first nine months of the year.

A large number of its customers are millennials, a demographic that it has specifically marketed to over the last decade.

In July, the institution was named the Best Bank in Africa 2019 by Euromoney, a London-based global finance magazine. The GT Bank app was also recognized as the best mobile banking application in the country at the International Business Awards 2019.  


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2. Zenith Bank

Assets: ₦5.97 trillion

Profit After Tax: ₦150.7 billion

Zenith Bank is Nigeria’s second biggest bank by asset valuation, a position it has arrived at by marketing itself as affluent and strong. Since the early 2000s, it has been at the forefront of mobile banking in Nigeria.     

Agusto and Co., a credit rating agency, ranked Zenith Bank the best digital bank in Nigeria in 2019. The agency said that its ranking was based on a survey of customers who used digital banking services in the country.

1. Access Bank

Assets: ₦6.6 trillion

Profit After Tax: ₦90.7 billion.

You will be hard pressed to find a bank that has dominated news headlines throughout one year- for the right reasons –as Access Bank has managed to do in 2019.

First, its merger with Diamond Bank, completed this year, has made it the biggest bank in the country by asset valuation. It also expanded into Kenya by taking over the troubled Transnational Bank.

Access Bank’s other significant involvements in the past year include its sponsorship of the Art X event and the Lagos Marathon, and its Pitch-a-Ton competition for women who run their own business.

Featured image source: Phenomenal


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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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